Sure, spring’s got flowers, but it’s also got showers. And summer has sunshine, but all that sunshine gets hot. As for winter…well, snow’s fun for, like, a day.
But fall—fall has Halloween and Thanksgiving, bright blue skies and crunchy leaves, and colorful foliage that looks more like something out of a 19th century Thomas Cole painting than real life.
Lucky for us, there are more than a few places near Philly to see those autumn leaves in all their glory—and before they go up in smoke on that totally illegal bonfire in your neighbor’s backyard. –Chelsea Karnash
1635 River Rd.
New Hope, Pa. 18938
The countryside in Bucks Co. is beautiful all year round, but it’s absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Take the scenic drive along Route 32 (River Rd.) from Washington Crossing to New Hope, but make sure to stop at 134-acre Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve for a walk to the tower, where you’ll get a 360-degree view of nature at its most colorful.
Fairmount Park – Wissahickon Gorge
206 Lincoln Dr.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19144
Hands down, Wissahickon is the best part of the city’s Fairmount Park system. As you meander (or bike, or jog, or hike) along one of the densely wooded park’s 57 miles of trails, the city smog and crowds will seem miles away. In their place, birds will be chirping, fallen leaves will satisfyingly crunch beneath your feet, and sunshine will filter softly through the branches of multi-hued trees. Sound lovely? It is. And you know what makes it even better? A hot chocolate or apple cider at the adorable Valley Green Inn post-walk.
1001 Longwood Rd.
Kennett Square, Pa. 19348
Love, love, loooove Longwood. Take a day trip out to this magical place any time of year, and you’ll find 1000+ acres of gardens, meadows and fountains to explore. Venture there in autumn, and you’ll also find “Autumn’s Colors,” a seasonal paradise of gold, orange and crimson colored foliage, complete with a Pumpkin Playground and Garden Railway. And FYI: Head to Longwood through November 23, and the colors of fall will be even more amped up during the annual Chrysanthemum Festival, featuring thousands and thousands of fall’s signature bloom, the mum.
Marsh Creek State Park
675 Park Rd.
Downingtown, Pa. 19335
www.dcnr.state.pa.usA fishing and boating paradise, pristine Marsh Creek in nearby Chester County offers two boat launches and more than 200 seasonal boat slips. Hike through this 535-acre park’s numerous trails, or bring your camera along for a walk and some gorgeous shots of the changing leaves. Prefer a challenge with your autumnal views? Take a fall stand-up paddle boarding class!
100 E. Northwestern Ave.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19118
Philly’s Morris Arboretum is set on 92-acres of land and knows how to make learning fun. More than 13,000 of their plants and trees are labeled, and they offer a Scarecrow Walk from October 4-19. Check the calendar on their website frequently for fun classes and events for both you and the kids.
Ridley Creek State Park
1023 Sycamore Mills Rd.
Media, Pa. 19063
Nestled in Delaware County just 16 miles from Center City, you’ll find Ridley Creek State Park, perfect for a low-key day of taking in the fall foliage. The park has more than 2000-acres of woodlands and meadows and is decidedly less crowded than some of the other places on this list, so nature lovers who want true peace and quiet can enjoy biking, hiking, fishing, walking or horseback riding along the park’s many trails, or a pretty photo-op in the formal gardens near the park’s office.
515 Painter Rd.
Media, Pa. 19063
For a fall treat, take a stroll through Tyler Arboretum’s Native Woodland Walk, or hike along more than 20 miles of trails, where you’ll catch a periodic glimpse of the historic ruins that dot the area through the colorful foliage. Want to take the fall fun even further at Tyler? The Pumpkin Days Celebration (Oct. 18 – 19) includes pumpkin sales, scarecrow building, a moonbounce and of course, hay wagon rides throughout the arboretum’s grounds for a look at fall’s colors.
Valley Forge National Park
1000 First Ave., Suite 101
King of Prussia, Pa. 19406
Valley Forge in autumn can only be described as hauntingly beautiful. That beauty is clear to anyone who visits the 3600 acres of meadows, woodlands and rolling hills, transformed into a living landscape painting by fall. But it’s juxtaposed by the fact that more than 2000 men died here during the long, hard winter of 1777-78, when George Washington’s Continental Army camped in what’s now the park. Amble through the vividly colored forests and stumble upon 18th century relics—like Washington’s headquarters or the reconstructed log cabins of his men—and its hard not to feel the pull of history. So yes, while Valley Forge is truly beautiful in fall, it’s also haunting—in a good way.